Living below the line

Thousands of Australians recently took up the challenge to live below the line and eat on $2 a day for five days to raise money to support educational projects in remote Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. Fourteen students and staff from Marist Regional College were among those who chose to give up their morning coffee and sweet treats to raise awareness of the circumstances of others.

Live Below the Line is an annual fundraising initiative of Australian youth-run organisation Oaktree. The experience provides a small window into what it is like to live in extreme poverty and gives participants an opportunity to make a real impact to people in other communities. Funds raised support locally run education projects in South East Asia, providing scholarships, learning materials and teacher training for hundreds of young men and women.

“Live Below the Line is about recognising the potential of young people,” said Oaktree CEO Chris Wallace. “It's built on the belief that everybody should have access to an education, regardless of where they're born.”

The participants from the College found the experience rewarding but challenging. Not only were they hungry, but the students also struggled to focus in class and felt extremely tired. Eating similar meals all week such as simple rice, pasta and noodle dishes was also tough.

It was all worth it though as they raised over $1,500 during the week. This support could train two teachers in Cambodia, buy five children’s school uniforms and class materials for three years, fund six students scholarships or provide text books for 72 children attending school.